Saturday 17 December 2011
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Read Revelation 12 at Bible Gateway.
Previously: revelation 12, seven heads and ten horns
Then the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, that they should feed her there one thousand two hundred and sixty days. … Now when the dragon saw that he had been cast to the earth, he persecuted the woman who gave birth to the male Child. But the woman was given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness to her place, where she is nourished for a time and times and half a time, from the presence of the serpent. So the serpent spewed water out of his mouth like a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away by the flood. But the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed up the flood which the dragon had spewed out of his mouth. And the dragon was enraged with the woman, and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ. Rev 12:6, 13-17
The woman, who we saw was Israel:
1) fled into the wilderness, where she would be nourished for 1260 days or 3-1/2 times;
2) escaped there by the two wings of a great eagle;
3) was persecuted by the dragon, who is the serpent, by a flood pouring from his mouth;
4) the earth helped the woman, and swallowed up the flood of the dragon – serpent;
5) this enraged the dragon, who made war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.
First let us consider who the rest of her offspring are. Her firstborn was the male Child, Jesus Christ the Messiah. He is the firstborn among many brethren. The rest of Israel’s offspring are: 1) those who keep the commandments of God, and 2) those who have the testimony of Jesus Christ. Well, here are the two witnesses again. The house of Judah, i.e., the Jews, keep the commandments of God, and the house of Ephraim, i.e., the Gentiles who became the Christians, have the testimony of Jesus Christ. Judah and Ephraim are of course considered the offspring of Israel.
Second, what about this wilderness? Traditional historicists say that the woman, who they identify as Zion or the true church, fled into the wilderness of obscurity with the rise of the state- sponsored counterfeit church (the Roman church) which they place at 533 ad, and they end the 1260 years at 1793 with the French Revolution. Read their position, it does have merit. My only problem with it is that the Scriptures say that the woman was nourished in the wilderness for 3-1/2 times. While she was being martyred by the Roman church, how was she being nourished?
My alternate theory is this: when the dragon began to fiercely persecute the woman Israel, she fled the persecution on the wings a great eagle. The eagle is the symbol of America. In 1620 the Pilgrims fled religious persecution in Europe and arrived on these shores, which was a vast wilderness at that time. That the earth helped the woman, because it swallowed the flood of persecution from the serpent, also fits, because America has been separated from the rest of the world by two oceans. For so many years, the earth has indeed helped the woman, and the sufferings which Christians and Jews in the rest of the world suffer, do not touch the woman here. While the Pilgrims and those who followed after them were busy making a great nation out of the wilderness, the dragon did indeed make war with the rest of her offspring. Christians continued to be persecuted by the Roman church, which is what prompted the flight of the Pilgrims in the first place, and Jews also have had so much trouble finding any place which would welcome them, receive them, and allow them to keep the commandments of God in peace.
So what about the 3-1/2 times of nourishment? I wonder if the angel used the phrase “3-1/2 times” rather than 1260 days as he did in verse 6, because two different time periods were meant. I know that traditionally the church has held that all the references in Scripture of 3-1/2 times, 42 months, and 1260 days refer to the same time period. But what if they don’t? Consider this:
1620 = arrival of the woman in the wilderness on the wings of the great eagle, corresponding to the Pilgrims (Christians) landing in the wilderness which was to become America.
1970 = 3-1/2 “times” have elapsed, or 3-1/2 centuries.
In 1962, the ACLU successfully argued before the Supreme Court that silent prayer in school was unconstitutional. Before that point, in nearly every school in the country since schools began in the 1600s, prayer to God was part of the school day. In 1963, the ACLU successfully argued before the Supreme Court that Bible reading in school was also unconstitutional. Before that point, in nearly every school in the country since schools began in the 1600s, Bible reading was part of the daily curriculum.
These two cases mark a departure from the types of cases the ACLU had argued from its inception in the early part of this century. It had argued the free speech and free association rights of unions in the beginning. Then during World War II and after, it argued for free speech rights for Nazis, and prosecuted Japanese internment cases as unconstitutional. During the Cold War it argued for the free speech rights of Communists. During the Civil Rights era, it argued the civil rights cases of minorities, and also paid special attention to the constitutional rights of prisoners and criminals (i.e., police brutality). The two cases above were the only cases involving religion in which it took an interest.
All that changed, however, and the year of the revolution in the ACLU, was 1970. In 1970, a new director was appointed in the ACLU.
“Aryeh Neier’s appointment … as the ACLU’s executive director marked the advent of the ‘new’ ACLU. [He] consolidated what had been developing over the past five years: the new civil liberties issues, direct legal representation, and grant-funded special projects. … Neier wasted no time transforming the ACLU.”
And in 1971, The ACLU’s opposition to tax exemptions for churches in Walz v. Tax Commission “marked the dominance of absolutist thinking in the ACLU. In years to come, critics would cite Walz and the defense of child pornography as evidence of the ACLU’s utter lack of reasonableness.”
—In Defense of American Liberties – A History of the ACLU, Samuel Walker, pp. 314-316, 319-320, Southern Illinois University Press (2nd ed. 1999), from ACLUProCon.org website.
The ACLU is funded in part by the federal government. Since 1970, the ACLU’s cases have been increasingly focused on harassing the woman, and restricting the right of free religious expression and association for the woman, but increasing the religious expression for atheists, pagans, and any religion which is not Israel. The time of the woman being nourished in the wilderness indeed ended after 3-1/2 “times.”
To be continued …